LinkStation Quad review

Buffalo has chucked everything but the kitchen sink into its LinkStation Quad NAS (network attached storage) drive. It’s packed with additional features that make it a lot more versatile than most conventional NAS drives.

The black, vault-like unit holds four drive bays, which in our review unit contained four 250GB drives to provide a total of 1TB of storage (there are other models available that provide up to 4TB storage if required). The use of multiple drives means that the LinkStation can also double as a RAID storage device to provide extra protection for important files. And, if something ever goes wrong with the drive, its front panel pops open so that you can quickly remove and replace any of the four drive units. Unfortunately, the LinkStation doesn’t work with Apple’s Time Machine, but Buffalo does include its own backup program called Life Agent that you can use to schedule regular backups if you want to.

The Quad has a Gigabit Ethernet interface, so it should provide good performance when backing up files – although this will obviously depend on how your own network is set up. There are also two USB ports that allow you to connect additional storage devices, as well as a special ‘Direct Copy’ button that will automatically copy files from other devices straight onto the LinkStation. Other useful features include a ‘WebAccess’ option that allows you to connect to the LinkStation over the internet so that you can access stored files from anywhere with internet access. There’s also a built-in BitTorrent option that allows you to use the popular file-sharing service to download files straight onto the drive.

Setting the LinkStation up is straightforward, thanks to Buffalo’s LinkNavigator software, which automatically scans your network and detects the drive for you. However, things get a bit more complicated if you need to use any of the LinkStation’s more advanced features. Options such as selecting RAID modes, or using the WebAccess feature, need to be configured through a rather complex web browser interface. Unless you’re already fairly familiar with networking and RAID systems you’re going to be pretty confused by the technical settings and jargon that are thrown at you here.

OUR VERDICT

There’s no doubt that the LinkStation is a technically impressive storage system. However, you will need a fair amount of technical know-how in order to use many of its features properly. It’s also pretty expensive, even when you take its RAID features into account, so it’s probably most suitable for business users or technically savvy hobbyists who will be able to cope with its many complex features.

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